Saturday, October 27, 2007

Some Other Stuff

Friday, October 26, 2007

Climate Of Change

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eye Spin

To look at Cristiano Pintaldi’s pixellated paintings feels very much like being sucked into a television screen and spat back out, simple images from the the TV screen draw your eye and as you construct the story from the still image only to find your eyes breaking under the strain. This combination of reality and fiction appears to be where Pintaldi leads us, under his hand these flat replications of televisual like images are rendered in small pixellated lines in red, green and blue on a black background, sunbtle shading finishes the image and from these dotted pieces of individual colour the image forms it is our own ocular failings which break the connection with the image.

The main image in this exhibition in the small unfussy space of Sprovieri Progetti is taken from television coverage of the Pope’s funeral in 2005. We are faced with a scene of sombre reflection on the faces of the Bush family, Bill Clinton and Condoleeza Rice, behind them Church elders bow their heads in respect at the loss of their figurehead. The power of successive generations of the international political elite alongside the elite of the Catholic church remind one very sharply of the distance between those who hold such global power and the rest of us, this is always clearly highlighted if you take the time to consider these things from in front of your television screen but in reality nearly always further from our thoughts than it should be. The effect of Pintaldi’s painting is to bring the reality starkly to us by showing the failure of the screen media to fully portray the reality, as scene of a funeral should bring sadness but very soon our minds wander to the images of the president, his family and previous incumbent and nothing else. In this three colour image we search for expressions on the faces of those depicted but with the three colour repetitive sequence of pixels my eyes flicker and adjust to determine a true image, the flattened screen like representation loses its images to become a series of eye straining repetitive patterns. The media removes its reality through the it’s technical limitations, metaphorically and technically fact and fiction become subordinate to the failure of the human eye, we watch but we cannot see.

The pixellated painting technique is used in smaller paintings, Jesus on the cross, Peter Sellers as Doctor Strangelove and a single female eye are all rendered with the three colour technique. It is the painting of the female eye that conceptually draws all four paintings together as a single entity. The very simple ideas of watching and seeing is made clear, as the eye once more breaks under the strain of observation the shades and shapes which combine to allow the eye to construct the image once more break to individual dots of colour and repetitive pattern, through the representation of a televisual depiction of an eye, it is what we cannot see which becomes more important than what we can.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Scars of Architecture and History

I am standing in the courtyard of the Abbaye de Gellone in St Guilhem, this small village is hemmed in by the steep sided valley of the Herault river which descends from the Cevennes before opening onto the flattened Mediterranean landscape of Languedoc and finally the Mediterannean sea. The courtyard is scattered with familiar regional plants and is a dusty remnant of a more vibrant time, the history of this place renders it melancholic in modern times. My personal story of this place begins on the other side of the Atlantic in New York and seven and a half years earlier, in Fort Tryon Park in the Northern extremities of Manhattan is the Cloisters museum, the museum is a Frankenstein’s monster of architecture, a uniquely new world interpretation of classical world architecture and history this museum is an amalgam of classical architecture from every corner of Europe. It is in January 2000 that I amble glumly around the museum’s hideous concoction of courtyards with the plundered stone carvings and artefacts of the religious and architectural heritage of the continent. Intended to be a collected archive of artefacts lovingly joined in one place to give a nice bite sized romp through medieval architectural history these collected artefacts are joined in a geographical and stylistic remix of history. Romanesque & gothic styles mix together in an architectural & geographical mudfight, it is a depressingly soulless whizz through and up the leg of history, and amongst this museum’s architectural melange are the plundered and abused artefacts of the Abbaye de Gellone.
So seven and a half years later here I stand looking at the abused walls and columns of the courtyard of the abbey, the walls have been shored up by later generations and the remaining structure of the building is now strengthened and protected from further decline. Established in 804, the abbey was a cared for and loved building for generations, its decline began when it was sacked in the 1500’s by protestants, after the revolution in 1789 the remaining handful of monks were removed and the building fell into disrepair. The adjacent chapel continued to be used as the parish church whilst the courtyard stonework and the monastery building were removed by locals who scavenged the stone and sculptures for building materials like some early version of a dodgy architectural salvage yard. Finally after years of gradual abuse all the remaining artefacts were carefully removed and displayed by Pierre Yvon Verniere in the neighbouring village of Aniane, it was this act of rescue by Verniere which kept the sculptures and stonecarvings safe from further damage and destruction but this necessary removal of the artefacts has since resulted in the melancholic sight that now confronts visitors to the abbey. A handful of overlooked details defiantly gaze into the empty courtyard but mostly what comes to eye are the scarred walls that remain and tell the story of the previous architectural beauty now removed and residing in another continent. After his death in 1875 the artefacts rescued by Verniere passed through the hands of several collectors before being bought and donated to the museum where they now reside in their soulless home in New York.
One feels the abbey has lost its soul and perhaps those two sad sites can be redeemed, perhaps one day those sculptures, carvings and architectural details can be returned and given the care and respect they deserve, perhaps the legacy of the abuses of these artefacts and their guardians can in some small way be redressed and the spirit of the abbey reinvigorated by their return to their spiritual home.